Spanish PM Rajoy forced out of office

Sergio Mattarella

Sergio Mattarella

Despite misgivings over his virulent anti-Spanish rhetoric, Torra has "named a cabinet without detained or exiled former ministers, paving the way for Madrid to end its direct rule over the northeastern region", says news site The Local.

Madrid fired Catalonia's government and took control of the running of the region after an illegal and unsuccessful declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament in October.

Spain's central government then refused to publish their names in the Catalan official gazette, effectively preventing the new regional administration from taking office.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said he would not speculate further, but stressed that Germany and Spain were important partners.

The Basque Nationalist Party, whose five seats were key to Sanchez securing enough parliamentary backing, withdrew support from Rajoy after dozens of people linked to his center-right People's Party (PP) were sentenced to decades in jail in a corruption trial.

"This is just about Mr Sanchez's ambitions", he said. The leader of the conservative People's Party has been prime minister since 2011.

Sanchez ousted Rajoy on Friday by narrowly winning a no-confidence vote in parliament following corruption convictions linked to the outgoing leader's Popular Party.

Sanchez told reporters Friday that he was "aware of the responsibility and the complex political moment of our country". That done, Sanchez can be sworn in as soon as Saturday as the seventh prime minister of Spain's democratic era.

"It has been an impressive strategic achievement by Pedro Sanchez", Odon Elorza, a Socialist deputy from the Basque country, told broadcaster TVE, adding that "we never suspected these circumstances could arise".

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Two Catalan pro-independence parties as well as leftist Podemos, a relative newcomer, another small Basque group and a party from the Canary Islands have said they will back Sanchez.

Pedro Sanchez was sworn in as Spain's Prime Minister on Sunday, a day after the Socialist party (PSOE) leader successfully ousted predecessor Mariano Rajoy who lost a no-confidence vote in parliament. Current forecasts suggest the motion will pass in the 350-member Congress by 180 votes, a majority of four.

Rajoy was toppled by a corruption scandal involving members of his Popular Party (PP) and became the first leader in Spain's modern democracy to lose a vote of no trust in Parliament, the BBC reported.

The new prime minister has vowed to fight corruption and help Spaniards affected by years of public spending cuts under Mr Rajoy's government.

All of his allies in the no-confidence motion stressed their vote against Rajoy was not a blank cheque for Sanchez.

Mr Rajoy made brief farewell remarks to MPs before the vote, telling them: "It has been a honour to leave Spain better than I found it".

The party also received a hefty fine as a beneficiary of the kickbacks-for-contracts scheme.

Under a Spanish law that prevents a power vacuum, Mr Sanchez would immediately become the new leader of the 19-country eurozone's fourth biggest economy and a prominent European Union leader at a time when the bloc faces numerous challenges.

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